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Market Update

Asia Stocks Off Lows; Sensex Drags

Asian markets dropped in early trades Wednesday but recovered most of the losses by session-end.

At close, the Shanghai Composite was up 0.3% while the Hang Seng pared losses and finished flat. Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries also closed near the flat-line, up 0.1%.

Japan's Nikkei ended 0.6% higher as investors returned to the market after a three-day long weekend.

Mumbai's BSE Sensex also pulled off early lows but still finished 0.9% lower even as the Indian currency gained ground against the dollar after the central bank waded in with monetary tightening policies yesterday to bailout the sinking rupee.

In other news, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's latest policy meet showed that policy-makers felt there was room for more monetary easing but they would prefer a "wait-and-watch" policy to asses the impact of earlier easing measures.

Stocks on the Move

Growth woes continued to hit sentiment across Chinese markets earlier in the session. Data released yesterday showed growth in the world's second largest economy slowed further to 7% in the second quarter, although the figure was in line with analysts' expectations.

Resources stocks in Hong Kong continued to reel under pressure. Angang Steel eased 0.2% up from 1.7% logged earlier in the trade, while Jiangxi Copper retreated over 1.7%. Zijin Mining Group lost around 3.7%

Property developers also declined but some managed to recover lost ground. Poly Property Group Co. slumped more than 3.5%, China Resources Land Ltd. fell 2.3% while Sino Land Company pared losses to finish up 0.6%.

On the mainland, Shanghai-listed Gemdale Corp. fiinished 0.8% lower after tumbling more than 3.2% earlier while the broader Shenzhen-listed China Vanke finished flat.

Banks also traded with slim losses but exporters were on the other side of the rung as upbeat earnings in the U.S. boosted sentiment. Esprit Holdings Ltd. bounced 3.3% while Li & Fung Ltd. added 1.1%.

Exporters in Tokyo also notched higher, further supported by a softer yen. Among top gainers, Nintendo Co. vaulted 5.3%, Konami Corp. soared 6.5% and Canon Inc. gained 2.7%.

Power utility Tokyo Electric Power surged 12.6% while Kansai Electric Power advanced 2.7%.

Financials and resources stocks were also on the gainers' side.

In Australia, banks were slightly higher. NAB edged up 0.2% while Westpac Banking Group tacked on a percent and ANZ inched up 0.2%.

Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto climbed 0.5% and 1.4% respectively but Fortescue Metals Group finished flat. Gold miner Newcrest Mining extended losses, down 2.1%.

On the downside in Mumbai, financial stocks led the losses after the Reserve Bank of India introduced a host of measures late yesterday, including a hike in lending rates for banks and plans to mop out excess iquidity from the market, to stem the rupee's continued weakness.

ICICI Bank plunged 5.6%, HDFC sank 3.9% while SBI tumbled 4.6% and HDFC Bank erased 2.4%.

Other rate-sensitive stocks were also in the red. Car maker Maruti Suzuki reversed 2.5% while Hero MotoCorp gave up 2%. Realty giant L&T was down 3.4%.

IT stocks logged losses as the rupee strengthened against the U.S. dollar, bleaking earnings outlook of IT-services exporting firms. Wipro slipped around 1.5% while Infosys lost 0.4%.